Shortly after my “Oma,” my mother’s mother, passed away, my aged “Opa,” my grandfather, could no longer take care of himself. Two of my uncles decided to put him in a senior living facility. On his way in, my Opa, who had lived through Nazi occupation, had safely hid numerous individuals on his farm property during the War, and narrowly escaped with his life, looked at two of his sons and said something to the effect, “I’m an honest man, why are you putting me in this facility?”
I’m under the impression he felt like it was a prison and he was being betrayed.
Last week, the Republican Caucus, but one, was told to self-quarantine, without a formal investigation, when a member of our caucus tested positive for the coronavirus after a regular weekly lunch meeting, where all but one of us was present, even though I was cautious about social distancing.
On Monday, I received a letter telling me the quarantine would conclude on September 8th and I could return to work on the 9th. It gave no explanation as to how this was determined. That I tested negative was inconsequential.
Here I am, still in Sacramento, more than a week after my socially distanced contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, and I’m still in good health, with no symptoms, with a reasonable temperature.
Late last night, after I had gone to bed, I received an email from Dr. Erica Pan, the Acting Public Health Officer for the California Department of Public Health, informing me that I was to continue staying in my Sacramento residence through September 8th.
“Violation of or failure to comply with this order may constitute a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment, fine, or both.”
Our internal investigation shows that I do not meet the CDC guidelines for close contact during the Monday afternoon Floor Session (which seemed to apply to my Democrat colleagues, as well) and the Caucus lunch meeting of last Tuesday (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Insane Consequences — August 26, 2020 august 26, 2020 john moorlach).
I was asked to be tested and willingly complied (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Capitol Contact Tracing — August 27, 2020 august 27, 2020 john moorlach). The results came back negative (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Back To The Business At Hand — August 28, 2020 august 28, 2020 john moorlach).
However, instead of having the results sent to me directly from the test provider, I received the news from the Senate nurse. This does cause me some concern about my medical information. Did my employer and Senate leadership know the results before I did? Or was the nurse the only recipient of the results and kept in her safeguard?
I understand that there has to be a way of communicating those results with the people in charge of running the Senate, as they made the arrangements and paid for the services, but I don’t understand why I couldn’t be told directly by the testing center and then asked to relay those results to the Secretary of the Senate.
The Zoom technology did not really slow down the proceedings, except for the occasional accidental failures to unmute (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Evicted Remote Senators — September 1, 2020 september 1, 2020 john moorlach).
Fewer Legislative Games
The legislative process was slowed down for the following reasons:
1) Procrastination and infighting. This cause has several components. Many of the Democrats just didn’t get their bill amendments concluded in time. This could be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps stakeholders hadn’t come to an agreement, or they weren’t getting the appropriate signals from Democratic leadership in both houses, or the Governor was signaling opposition and there’s no point in sending a bill to him that he’s going to veto.
Others found that, as Committee Chairs, they were confused and irritated that Committee Chairs in the other Chamber would amend or kill their bills. Consequently, they sought retribution in some form or fashion. One Democrat colleague observed that “take it or leave it” was not “negotiating.” We will never know how much this impacted the tradition of “legislative sausage making.”
Days were skipped. The Senate did not meet on Tuesday. The Assembly didn’t meet on Friday and Saturday.
Indeed, the Pro-Tem’s office made a deliberate decision not to do any substantial work on bills that were piling up and becoming eligible for action from August 3rd to August 20th. This is a list of the range of bills that were eligible for debate and a vote but not taken up:
August 3 = Items 26-50
August 6 = Items 18-55
August 10 = Items 22-66
August 13 = Items 25-77
August 17 = Items 33-140
August 20 = Items 51-172
Honestly, I was ready to work the file to whittle down the critical bills that always linger during the last few days of session.
Years ago, the voters told the legislature that they wanted fewer games played with bills before they were voted out of the legislature. The voters subsequently passed Proposition 54, requiring each bill to be in print for 72 hours before it could be voted on in its final form.
Even this requirement barely keeps the public informed or allowing them to participate in the process and comment, as necessary. It also forces the legislature to make sure that their ducks are in a row days before it adjourns for the fall.
There is still a lot of negotiation between the houses, but the minority party is largely left out of the loop and their bills are rarely considered priorities for final action. Those inside the process liken it more to hostage negotiations and someone always gets hurt in the end. This time, the damage was far spread and Democrats severely miscalculated their time allotted to get the people’s business done.
There are some bills that can take hours to deliberate on because the author or Floor manager will receive comments and perspectives that they did not anticipate. We had one bill dealing with suicide that found many of my colleagues sharing personal and heart-felt stories on this subject as it related to family members. You can’t speed up discussion for a subject matter of this nature.
The Democrats mismanaged and misjudged the amount of time that would be necessary to address all of the bills in a professional and appropriate manner. And this left a number of critical bills hanging and killed for perhaps a year.
2) Lack of courtesy and decorum. Being remote and referred to by the presiding officer as in the “backyard” was intended as snidely humor, but this same Senator dismissively referred to disgruntled independent contractors as those who had lost their “lollipops” (see MOORLACH UPDATE — SB 990 and SB 806 Get Sucker Punched — May 16, 2020 may 16, 2020 john moorlach). She voted against my bill that would have addressed the problems with AB 5 (SB 990), and I found no humor in her choice of descriptors then either.
Reaction to insensitive slights during a serious deliberative process created unnecessary time delays. Being righteously offended and raising objections was in order.
3. Lack of communication and simple requests. Unilaterally making a motion to significantly limit debate, which the Democrats can do, was poor form. Democrats will vote in tandem as instructed on any motion presented on the Floor. Republicans do the same in opposition. But, when you are the majority party, you should think about the ramifications of overbearing actions.
The simple solution would have been to politely encourage members to limit the number of times they chose to speak and to keep the length of their Floor speeches to a respectful amount of time. I follow these three simple “Be” rules: Be Bright; Be Brief; Be Gone. My Floor speeches are usually written on one piece of paper.
One of my Democrat colleagues is notorious for lengthy Floor speeches. One of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle publicly stated that when she stands up to speak and commences with her remarks, he is able to walk all the way to the bathroom and back, twice. So, asking for brevity goes for all of the Senators.
Using a crude hammer to demand what a simple and courteous request could have done wasted too much time and left a bad impression on too many who were actually observing the last night’s drama with their internet stream or on live television (which is the case for those residing in Sacramento).
Why do I spend all this time on this subject? Because the Democrats failed in many regards to conclude the Session in a satisfactory fashion. But, blaming themselves goes against human nature. So, they blame the Republicans. And, better yet, punish them. Make them serve a time out for another week up here in Sacramento.
Ignore the fact that there was no written report supporting why we should be subject to a 14-day quarantine. Force another epidemiologist to do the dirty work. Put these remote Senators under house arrest and make them pay the price under the threat of imprisonment.
As for me, I will serve the time. Even though I show no symptoms. I will bear the brunt of the majority party’s frustrations. I will ignore that the Democrats are hypocrites and would most likely not do this to their members if the shoe were on the other foot. I will do my best to grit my teeth when informed that the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives breaks the rules, gets her hair done illicitly and blows it off (pun intended).
I can see the nonsense. I can see salonists screaming to get back to work. I can see the hypocrisy. And I can see the immaturity. We’re all tired of the Governors’ running this state in this manner with the complicit approval of the majority party. After numerous attempts, the majority party refused to even debate a resolution to end the state of emergency.
Taking a Senator who is not ill and forcing him to stay in place without due process or even a thorough investigation is what we have come to expect from California’s government. Be it the EDD or the DMV or a botched HSR. I see it. Let’s hope others do, too. This is not Cuba, China or Venezuela, for crying out loud. This is America.
In the meantime, I’m wondering why the state would be putting an honest man under house arrest?
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